Orthopedic Health

Knee Pain in Old Age - Osteoarthritis

Written by Dr. Mahavir Patil and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

 
Image: Knee Pain in Old Age - Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disorder in which there is progressive softening and disintegration of articular cartilage accompanied by new growth of bone at the joint margins and capsular fibrosis. Osteoarthritis may be asymmetrically or symmetrically distributed and often localized to only one part of the joint. It is related to abnormal loading. OA is a dynamic phenomenon; it shows features of both destruction and repair.

Causes of Osteoarthritis:

Age is the most common factor associated with OA. As one gets older, the cartilage, meant to prevent the articular bones from rubbing against each other, gradually starts to wear off causing reduction in the lubricant oil in the joint. This does not mean that age is the only factor that affects OA. OA is the commonest of all the conditions that affect the joints in particular. It is truly a universal disorder, affecting both sexes and all races. Everyone who lives a long enough life is expected to suffer from it sometime in their life.

Risk Factors of OA:

Being a weight bearing joint, congenital bony disorders, trauma, certain occupations that cause repetitive stress on the knee, knee bending activities, weak bones, obesity, family history of OA are a few risk factors that increase the chance of getting OA.

Symptoms of OA:

Knee pain is usually the presenting symptom in the early stages. Other symptoms include stiffness, swelling, restriction of knee movements and difficulty in doing activities of daily living like getting up from a sitting position. The deformity may occur in late stages.

Investigations:

  1. Often x-rays are characteristic and will give the doctor a primary idea of the onset of disease.
  2. In some cases, MRI and CT scan may be advised.
  3. Bone DEXA scans may be needed in severe cases to see the strength of bones.

Management:

  • In early stages, one should maintain movement, muscle strength and protect joints from overload.
  • Medicines can be used to relieve pain and modification in daily activities will help.
  • Physiotherapy, massage, hot fomentation, infrared, short wave diathermy, knee supports and caps will be helpful to alleviate pain.
  • General measures like weight reduction in obese patients, wearing shock absorbing shoes, avoiding activities like climbing stairs and sitting crossed legged on the floor will help a lot.
  • Latest is intra-articular synovial fluid or hyaluronic injections given in the joint yearly or monthly which will help delay the surgery and slow down the destruction of the joint to some extent.

In late stages, progressive joint destruction, increasing pain, instability and deformity usually require treatment options like joint replacement. The destroyed joint is replaced by a new synthetic one. This knee replacement surgery has transformed the lives of millions of patients till now and continues to be a blessing for such patients.

To know more about knee pain and osteoarthritis consult an orthopaedician and traumatologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/orthopaedician-and-traumatologist

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018

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